Cleveland: Circus draws many fans, some protestors

12:22 AM, Oct 20, 2012   |    comments
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  • CLEVELAND -- The Greatest Show on Earth is in Northeast Ohio, making its stop in Cleveland on the regular tour.

    Wednesday through Friday night's performances have sold out; there will be performances through Monday, including three on Saturday and Sunday.

    As thousands enjoy the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey show inside Quicken Loans Arena, a small group of people protested outside.

    They are from the Northeast Ohio Circus Cruelty Boycott Community, and plan to hold signs outside the arena for the duration of the tour.

    Gia Mona-Campola and Amy Wagar Cinch don't expect to reach Ringling Bros. with their signs, but the public.  Their group boycotts a number of circuses in Ohio throughout the year.

    "What we need to do is experience a paradigm shift and start making conscious choices.  Especially for the children, because this is such a draw for them.  To send a message of compassion to enjoy animals in their natural environment," said Mona-Campola.

    Right now, the US House of Representatives is considering a bill to ban exotic animals in traveling circuses.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich is Ohio's co-sponsor, one of 26 legislators from 16 states.  The bill, introduced in 2011, remains in subcommittee.

    Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey receives many questions about animal welfare from the community. They've answered many of those questions on a FAQ page on their website (see link for more information), including conservation, breeding and questions about caring for the animals as they travel.

    Big Cat trainer and presenter, Alexander Lacey is world renowned.  He says Ringling has nothing to hide, and that the facilities and level of care for the exotic animals are second to none.

    "In everything, there's going to be people who disagree in one form or another, but the majority vote with their feet.  They visit us, come to the show."

    Locally, Cleveland's animal warden made an unannounced inspection of Ringling Bros. on Wednesday, to check on the animal welfare.  Chief Baird found no indications of mistreatment or abuse.

    "What people don't realize is that we are extremely regulated. Every single city we get to, we're visited by [authorities].  I have to make sure my animals are comfortable with every aspect of circus life, and part of that is traveling," Lacey said.


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